We Flew with the Other Eagles, Over the Grand Canyon, with Papillion Helicopter Tours

We flew with the other eagles and the clouds, over the Grand Canyon, to discover a barren rock landscape, dotted with green along the valley floors, and dusty sage on the plateaus. Enormous rock pillars rose to meet the sky as we hovered over the six-million-year-old landmark.  But the best feature of our experience was the incredible vantage points offered by the Papillion helicopter ride.

Starting more than six million years ago, the Colorado River, and its sister streams, began flowing through the Colorado Plateau, through what is now northern Arizona. Bits of sediment and rock were carried downstream, gradually deepening the canyon. As the water table lowered, the result of sediment deposits over eons, was revealed in colorful striations of the canyon walls. From above, these walls resemble a layer cake of rusts and creams.

Our Grand Canyon adventure began with shuttle service from The Venetian to the Papillon Helicopter terminal at the Boulder City Municipal Airport. After boarding Papillon’s 6-passenger Bell Jet helicopter, we soared above the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert en route to the structure that shaped the history of the American West: Hoover Dam.

As we glided over the sparkling blue waters of one of the world’s largest man-made lakes, the channel narrowed and the Grand Wash Cliffs rose before us – the Grand Canyon was up ahead! Cut by the Colorado River, the depths of the Grand Canyon exceed 4,500 feet at this part of the gorge, and photo opportunities were in abundance through our helicopter’s over-sized windows. We were blessed with a comfortable, up-close-and-personal experience with the Grand Canyon’s massive rock formations surrounding our entire viewpoint.


Our return flight was complete with a bird’s eye view of The Vegas Strip. Watching the Stratosphere Hotel, and the Stratosphere SkyJump, appear long before the other resorts were even in sight made me gasp at the thought of jumping from the 108th floor during our previous trip. It was a giant among elves. Like the Grand Canyon, it was overpowering everything in its path.

We landed at the Papillion private heliport in the heart of Las Vegas and were escorted back to the hotel. The ride was quiet as we both reflected on the amazing sights in which we had just experienced.

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68 thoughts on “We Flew with the Other Eagles, Over the Grand Canyon, with Papillion Helicopter Tours

  1. Great experience! It is a dream of mine to see the Grand Canyon…flown over on a jet but not really the experience I am looking for. Your photos are gorgeous! ~~Bliss

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    • They can be extremely costly, especially this one. There are some that offer more reasonable prices but it depends on where you live.

      I hope you get to experience it at some point in your life.

      Happy Holidays,

      Lesley

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  2. looks like you had a great experience! If you ever get a chance to visit again, take a different vantage point and try a short hike down the canyon. The first time I ever saw it I went skydiving so it looked more like a patch of Mars on a grand landscape of desert and Las Vegas. The second time my family and I spent a night in one of the lodges, hiked down for an hour and back up for another 2.5! Once we turned a bend, and found goats sitting on the ledges… to be that close to any nature is amazing, but it is a completely different thing in the Grand Canyon. After an exhausting day, there is absolutely nothing like watching the sun set over it.

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  3. It is truly an awe-inspiring landscape, isn’t it? I’ve seen the canyon from the rim, and hope one day to raft the river, but your trip in the realm of the birds is perhaps the best way to view it.

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    • It was hard to believe just how amazing it was. I’d love to raft the river as well, but I think it will be awhile before I make the journey.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

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  4. A couple of years ago, we camped with our girls at Grand Canyon park and spend two days hiking around.Though we were there towards the end of May, we were snowed on our first night. There was something magical about that experience. The canyon itself is amazing! If you ever get the chance, we also loved Zion National Park in Utah, a “sister” canyon park to the Grand Canyon.

    Great photos, as always, Lesley!

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  5. I loved the Grand Canyon and your photos were amazing. When we went 4 years ago, we became caught in a severe rainstorm – wind, thunder, the whole nine yards. We were awaiting a bus to take us back to the parking lot only to be told that the buses weren’t running due to the bad weather. There was no where to take shelter, given the lightening standing under a tree was out and all the bus stops were packed with other people. So we pushed ourselves up against a wall to at least get out of the wind when it began to hail and lightly snow. In July. We laughed so hard because it was beyond ridiculous. Finally the rain/hail/snow mix lessened and the buses began to run again. After returning to the car, we drove around to another vantage point and could look back at the storm and got some of the most amazing photos ever.

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  6. Leslie, I want your life – except that most of what you’ve done terrifies me… If I could have a Leslie-life light, that would be cool… I’ve yet to get to the Grand Canyon, but I’m determined to, so maybe this summer! Jerri

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  7. Great pics! The Grand Canyon is one of my favorite places. My husband (boyfriend at the time but soon-to-be fiance by the end of our trip) and I hiked the Bright Angel trail from the rim to Phantom Ranch at the bottom (camped overnight with the scorpions along the Colorado River) and then hiked back up. Loved seeing the mules and the gigantic condors (ugly but beautiful birds). One of my best memories was being there at the canyon and all the hiking (heat index in the canyon was around 102)! Ranger Confidential is a great book to read that talks a lot about the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Denali, etc. I got it b/c my husband is a park ranger and I thought it was great. I can’t wait to take my daughter there one day!

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  8. On my first flight cross-country from East to West I asked my fellow passenger how I’d know when we flew over the Grand Canyon…He replied “Oh, you’ll know”. Your photos remind me what I suddenly saw out my window and had no doubt what I was seeing…thanks.

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  9. Hi, Lesley! Thanks for liking my post 🙂 Your blog is wonderful! I have traveled quite a bit, but my adventures are nothing like yours! Already planning how to save some cash and visit the States next summer 🙂

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  10. Fantastic photos Lesley, I visited the Canyon about 30 years ago and stayed at the Yavapai Lodge (I think that’s how it is spelled). It was December and there was two foot of snow at the ground. The Canyon looked amazing in the snow, but I’d love to come back and see it without.

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  11. I’ve only been to Grand Canyon once after a very sleep deprived finals’ week in college so we only did the hike to the plateau. I definitely want to go back and do some of the longer hikes, now maybe even look into some of the helicopter tours 😉 Your pictures are amazing!

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  12. Wow this brought back some memories for sure. I flew over the canyon back in 1984 in one of the last flights allowed by a fixed wing aircraft. It was an hour long flight and we saw parts of the canyon (as you guys did) that can only been seen from the air. Truly spectacular!!! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Awesome post and great pictures! I wwant to the Grand Canyon several years ago and was just amazed. It was so beautiful, so perfect, it was almost hard to believe it was real. One of the most amazing and humbing expereinces of my life. THanks for sharing!

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  14. Great pics Lesley! I have wanted to visit the Canyons for a long time. Maybe one day soon I will venture out and have some great pics of my own. Congrats on your marriage!

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  15. incredible! my dad recently told me about his experience in a helicopter going over the grand canyon. he told me that they had music playing in the headphones and that it went along with everything you were doing on the ride. i don’t know how they were able to coordinate that… but he said it was just overall insanely amazing! did you have anything like that on your ride?

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  16. Awesome. If you ever get the chance, taking the helicopter ride down into the canyon and then doing the rafting trip is amazing. I did it with my parents about 7 years ago. They had their 25th wedding anniversary, an Elvis marriage vow renewal, and then a 3 day raft down the Grand Canyon. Definitely up there with one of the coolest weeks I’ve ever had.

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    • I’d like to return when my daughter is older, or born 😉 , and see it from the rim. It is absolutely breathtaking.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

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  17. Ohhhh I know the feeling I been there last late October of 2008. My husband and I took the helicopter too down the Buttom and ride the boat river.:) it was awesome experienced that I always counts as part of my life’s blessing.:)

    Best regards,
    Bloggeryenyen

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  18. Love the different perspectives from these photos. One of the things I crave in my life (and my silent bucket list). Inspired me to ride a motorcycle, climb into the cab of Hubby’s big rig and loved the way the world looked from the water when we owned a boat. So much to do, and still so much time to get it done!

    Thanks again for your enthusiasm.

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  19. As a newly married, expectant mother, and diverse adventurer with a bucket list a mile long, thought you might add one more: how about going from seeing the grand from an eagles perspective, to that of the otter – playing your way down the river in a 14 foot dory boat.

    Having guided a few trips in the Grand Canyon, my last trip was a private one, when I took my (now) wife, down the river in a freightenly small wooden ship. Not only was she astounded by the river and canyons beauty, but one more surprise added to her enjoyment. I proposed to her with a message that I scratched out on a sand bar, which she later saw from the lip of Deer Creek Falls, far above. It worked.

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  20. Pingback: Staying in Touch with My Inner Top Gun | Indulge – Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

  21. Pingback: LESLEY CARTER IS AN ADVENTURER TOURISM PILOT « Horiwood's Blog

  22. Pingback: 2012 Bucket List – Adventure Awaits!

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